Monday, January 14, 2013

Thru the Looking Glass: a New Year, a Renewed Optimism

January Guest Blogger: Heather Hansen, mom of two

Things look different from a distance. Like my three year old son, the other day. I sat on my sister-in- law’s couch, tense and pulsing with irritation and frustration, my body processing the challenge that parenting him has been as of late, including that morning, and he was outside, on their 3rd floor apartment balcony.
Prior, he was restless and bored, also pulsating, I suppose, and had asked to go outside. In our life, most is made better by fresh air and I was relieved he was making a good choice, a seemingly infrequent event these days. My sister-in-law accompanied him and I remained inside, indulging in an opportunity to be child free while he was occupied in play and our baby slept.
As I sat facing the window while conversing however, there, over my brother-in-law’s broad shoulder, was my slight little soul, curiously exploring helicopter seeds, rushing about gathering them, and throwing them through the rails with glee. He looked so innocent, so delighted, so unrestrained, so carefree, and so familiar that I found my annoyance quickly evaporated, making room for an affectionate smile for the son he used to be and apparently, still was.

Being removed and being witness to his positive play begged the question: what and who is different, allowing room for him to behave this way?
It hurts to think that it might be my contribution to our dynamic, or his little brother’s, that is negatively spinning my son and resulting in a child I can’t always appreciate, or tolerate, even, but it’s likely true. It’s doubtful that he woke up that day, or the multiple days preceding the whimsical deck day and thought: now that I have a little brother, I’m going to be difficult. It’s much more plausible that when I move, he moves.

Perhaps he isn’t even ‘being’ challenging as so much as that I am challenged, and our life has been challenged, and he, like me, is trying to make sense of it all- but his high energy and low maturity are getting in his way.
I have to remember that just because he can put on his own shoes and zip up his own coat and brush his own teeth and spread his own peanut butter that he is still so little and that, inside his little self, his big sensitive heart is still playing the leading role. I have to look closely, at his eyes, in particular, and be in tune with his vulnerability and fear, and recognize when the contagion effect has rendered him shaken, in response to me having been.

It’s my job to be bigger than my fatigue and impulse, and my job to support him learn and stay confident as he experiments with boundaries, limits, and behaviour. It’s evident that with the company of an adult he trusts and who he can relax with, that his best is still possible.
This is what new years and resolutions are about. It’s about being fresh; it’s about being our best. And so, moving forward, I will take this perspective along: he, released and rosy-cheeked, and me, noticing.

Of all the goals I have for this upcoming year, none take precedent over re-establishing some harmony in our home and some grace in my parenting. I resolve to be someone he can be his best around. I will make the effort to be my best, by disciplining myself first.
Wish me luck. As always, my best wishes to you on your journey, as well. Happy New Year.

Heather  is a married mother of two and an allied health professional living in the greater Vancouver area. She is the author of and writes because words make her happy.

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